Never mind the number nine. Last week’s news was abuzz with reports that baby number seven billion had joined the world on Monday. The exact calculation is imprecise, so a number of newborns were dubbed Baby Seven Bil. (Presumably some bear the name William, but I’ve yet to hear of one called Seven.)
So here’s the question: in a world of seven billion and counting, is any name really strange? A few weeks ago, a back-to-school ad showed lunchboxes and assorted school supplies bearing names like Ethan and Emma and Grace, but also Gigi and Miko and Cairo. Even the most ordinary classroom is home to some pretty extraordinarily unusual names.
This week’s list is a nod to the tremendous diversity out there in Namelandia. It gives us pause – how do you pronounce Saiorse? Is Ellington a boy or a girl? But it also creates space to use nearly any name under the sun.
Banjo – Waltzing More than Matilda mentioned some of the Australian candidates for the seven billionth birth. Among them was a baby Banjo, likely inspired by poet Banjo Paterson. (Though Paterson’s given name was actually Andrew.) The name feels a little bit out there in the US and Europe, but he’s pleasingly patriotic in his homeland. Aussie actress Rachel Griffiths used the name for her firstborn, son Banjo Patrick.
Agile Intuition – Speaking of names that make perfect sense at home, Isadora posted a list of names found in a book about Chinese orphans – all girls. The book gave the girls’ names in translation, and the list is captivating. Along with Agile Intuition, there’s Magnificent Dragon, Merciful Sea, and Double Vitality. Like the recent story about Indian girls taking part in name-changing ceremonies, it is a reminder that meaning trumps other considerations in many cultures.
Blank - At the other extreme, Nancy has been sharing stories of babies never given a first name – despite growing up in loving families with parents, and even siblings, with given names. It doesn’t seem to have done any harm, though it did cause some confusion, and one not-named fellow was sometimes referred to as Blank Gatewood. Mrs. Gatewood apparently objected.
When listed with Agile and Blank, Bronze seems almost ordinary. A boy called Bronze Quentin was spotted by For Real Baby Names in a Louisiana birth announcement. He sounds like a character from The Hunger Games. Then again, there are plenty of kids called Scarlett and Gray.
Everard – Lou at Mer de Noms mentioned Guy Fawkes Day, a commemoration of a failed coup d’etat in 1605. I find Guy intriguing, and Lou’s list of his fellow conspirators suggested some other appellations, including Ambrose, Catesby and Everard. History aside, the names are downright dashing.
Coraline - From the distant past to the shopping mall, Pottery Barn Teen has introduced a new furniture collection called Coraline. It is curious – a mainstream company embracing a name invented for a spooky story by celebrated sci-fi writer Neil Gaiman. That’s probably a sign that Coraline is catching on. Coco also appears in this edition, scrawled on a chalkboard. Is it Coraline’s nickname?
Jessica – In the world of celebrity, there were two birth announcements week, both completely unexpected. First, long-time bachelor Hugh Grant is a new dad. Mom is Chinese actress Tinglan Hong, known as Ting. Their daughter’s name? Jessica.
Tristyn – Speaking of unexpected dads, will Justin Bieber be singing lullabies? The pop star’s rumored love child is a boy called Tristyn. Let’s quietly sidestep the brewing scandal, and look at the spelling. Conventional wisdom has long held that adding a ‘ ‘y’ is the quickest way to make a masculine name feminine. But Tristyn, as well as Jordyn and Layne, all appear in the boys’ US Top 1000.
Have you spotted any unusual names this week? Did your local press name any local kids the seven billionth baby?